Together with rice and corn, wheat is one of the most widely consumed and widely grown crops in the world. From beer and breakfast cereal to common flour and pasta, wheat products can be found on almost every dining room table at breakfast, lunch and dinner. But what’s not to love? Wheat is a staple source of carbohydrates and a spectacular source of protein and fiber. As attractive as this perennial favorite may be, we at Teraganix have compiled a few major wheat health concerns that may inspire you to look for alternatives.
Irradiation and Toxins - Irradiation is common in many forms of food production. With wheat, however, production scales are so massive and fast-paced that the grain is consumed only days after being irradiated. Because of this, congressional hearings on the health risks posed by irradiated food have often focused specifically on wheat products. Modern hybridized wheat is also treated with sodium azide, a well-known toxic poison that can be fatal in sufficient quantities.
Gluten &Allergies - The rise in cases of diagnosed celiac disease has brought the world’s attention to the potential dangers of gluten; a culture of caution has created a worldwide demand for gluten free options in restaurants and on grocery shelves. Celiac disease is not the only concern, however; while only 1% of the population suffers from celiac disease, there are other, more common forms of gluten sensitivity that fall in a wide range of susceptibility and severity. Patients that fall in this spectrum experience symptoms from intense pain to muscle twitches and abdominal disorders. Wheat’s high gluten content combined with the high rate of wheat-specific allergies make the grain a risk to anyone who has not had a physician completely rule out the presence of both.
Genetic Modification - Wheat, corn and rice, as the most in-demand staple grains of the world, are some of the primary subjects of genetic modification. As the seed supply of each is incorporated into more and more research, it is becoming less and less possible to guarantee that the grains you are consuming are free from genetic meddling. As GM foods become more prominent, so do reports of harmful side effects like new allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, severe headaches, joint pain and other adverse reactions.
Luckily, alternatives to wheat are widely available. Buckwheat, despite its name, is completely wheat and gluten free; most grocery stores now stock buckwheat flour and tapioca flour in order to offer a gluten free baking option. Quinoa and amaranth, while not technically grains, are also wonderful substitutes for wheat and even boast a better amino acid profile than the enviously high protein grain.
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